Emergency Repairs

Earlier this week we had a pretty severe thunderstorm. Rain, thunder, and lightening, yes, but mostly lots of wind. At times, the blowing was hard enough that we could feel the house tremble even while laying in bed.

Somewhere in there we heard a slam that we assumed was the door in the old barn slamming open (it has a tendency to do that). But when I got up in the morning it was clear that something else had occurred. Out the window of the laundry room I saw the eve vent laying in the yard.

well crap...

What this means, aside from the fact that the wind managed to rip a fairly tightly secured piece of siding material off the side of the house, is that we now had a gaping hole in the north side of the house.

Big Ass Hole

I've had to learn over the years to leave alone - not start - things that I don't have the time to finish around the house. It's key to not letting myself get extremely frustrated about unfinished projects. Still, we had a hole in the side of our home, and spring is approaching. While the landlocked critters probably can't get up that high - it's a tall house - spring approacheth, and the birds have already begun to return.

I had no choice but to leave it for the first day - there was simply no open time in my schedule. This meant that, when I finally did get the stepladder lined up with the scuttle hole and climb my way up into the attic, it was with some trepidation.

In a lot of big, old, Victorian era homes the attic is functionally a third floor. In our homestead there is room to stand up in the attic, and one gets the impression that there may have been a thought, in the original design, that one could have made a small room up there if it was ever needed. In my grandparent's time there was a wooden ladder built-in against the wall and up to the scuttle hole. I don't know who put it there - whether it was part of the original construction, with that thought of using the extra space as an additional worker's bedroom (the scuttle hole is in the back, worker's stairwell), or whether it was just a later addition by someone who was just tired of hauling a stepladder up and down the back stairs. Having done that very task myself multiple times, I can see how one might get to that point.

Scuttle Hole

While it one can see how it could have been a small living space, at the moment it's just a home for insulation and duct work. And, fortunately, it did not appear to become an inopportune home for anything else.

As usual, all my tools are in the basement, so any repair or work in the attic inevitably involves multiple trips up and down two flights of stairs, one stepladder, and pulling oneself up or down through a scuttle hole. I was fortunate to start my repair trip with a bit of daylight outside, but it was still dark enough to require a flashlight. Improbably, the opening in the wall seems to look smaller up close than it does from the ground.

Old Attic

I thought I'd have to patch the hole with a bit of plywood (I don't have a ladder that goes high enough to work from the outside and, besides, the outside is really, you know, high), but I was fortunate enough to be able to fish the old vent out thru the hole from the inside...

...and of course, promptly dropped it.

Out the scuttle hole, down the stepladder, down the steps, out the back door, pick up the vent, back in the door, back up the steps, up the stepladder, through the scuttle hole...

Oh - but I did stop along the way and pick up some string so I could secure the damn thing and refrain from multiple trips. Forty-six years of dropping things can ultimately teach you a thing or two.

A little bit of work with the drill and some wood screws, some careful application of silicon sealant to prevent leaks around the edges, and we have a decent, if temporary, repair.

It all serves as an additional reminder that the wind out here isn't just playing, as well as a testament to the house for continuing to stand against it 150+ years on.